Week 4: Whole30 Top 10 Takeaways
I’m in the homestretch. I’m on day 28. And as my Whole30 comes to a close there’s so much I could say about this experience. So, in an effort to organize my thoughts and not drop a bunch of brain-blah on here, I crafted my top 10 Whole30 takeaways. Enjoy. Let me know if you agree, disagree, have something to add... Whatever it may be, I would love to chat!
1.) Support is everything. 30 days of no grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar or alcohol... oh my. Daunting. But it honestly feels so much easier to accomplish when you know you’re not doing it alone. Two of my friends were on the Whole30 around the same time as me. We’d frequently text recipes, share tips and tricks, and ask questions about compliant foods along the way. We joked we’re going to start a cookbook. Keep an eye out, people ;)
My BF was also wonderful about scoping out delicious recipes to cook for dinner. For a gal who often gets stuck in her routine of veggie sheet pan roasts, this was so needed. It was fun to test out new and unique complaint recipes to jazz things up and it was great to have a cooking partner at my side! We made coconut curry basil chicken, a sweet potato shepherd's pie, roasted salmon [many times!], veggies noodles, various things with ghee [which I'll get it to later!]... ah, just so many goodies!
And, lastly, my fam. You joked about my stinky meal prep and my ginormous “lunchbox”, but let’s be honest… that’s expected, and I know it all comes from a good place. You all did your lil part in showing support along the way. Zulay made a delicious Whole30 soup for dinner when I was home, John keeps a lookout for sales on my fave products and sends me links to deals [rxbars, oo YES], Shelby has been a fan of the beezy IG forever and was even a part of helping get my blog up and running!, Matt ate lunch next to me while I devoured a plate of stinky brussels and salmon … and managed not to gag [ha], my mom made a Squarespace account just so she could comment on my posts and send words of encouragement [LOVE it], and my Dad, well, we share an affinity for sugar snap peas. Thanks, fam.
2.) I’m never going to like black coffee, but I can appreciate a plain americano sans the milk and suga-suga. Baby steps, I suppose. If you know me, you know I like to add a lotta splenda into my coffee. It’s obscene. I’ll even admit it. I went into this Whole30 not concerned with eliminating certain foods, but rather, I knew I’d be missing my uber sweet morning coffee. Even on day 28 I still think black coffee is gross, but I have come to ‘like’ americanos without all the sweet gook. Maybe it’ll be a habit I can try to continue to adapt. Time will tell.
In my last week I did end up finding a Whole30 approved almond milk at Whole Foods. Woo! New Barn is the brand and they offer an unsweetened variety that is perf for Whole30-ers. The price was a little steep, but it was on sale, so I snagged it. It's pretty good! I add a smidge into my morning cold brew now.
3.) Trader Joe’s is LIFE. I know, I have a slight obsession, but I love shopping at Trader Joe’s because their produce department has so many bomb.com veggie options [pre-chopped for convenience] and they stock so many delicious and Whole30 compliant goodies. I even saw on IG that a certain TJs created a special section within an aisle to showcase some of these products - how awesome. I’m planning on doing a follow-up blog post to detail what I buy on a Whole30 shopping trip to TJs. Stay tuned!
4.) Nutritional yeast & Ghee… golly, GEE they're great. [emoji hand praises]. These two items win the award for favorite new Whole30 products that I tried this month. The nutritional yeast adds a nice cheesy flavor to dishes and I loved sprinkling it on salads, eggs, and roasted veggies. The ghee was great for sautéing veggies, specifically any kind of veggie noodle. I was hesitant to use ghee at first because ... I'll be honest ... it kinda of weirded me out. The consistency is not creamy at all. The taste is slightly like butter, but perhaps a little nuttier. I'll continue using both of these products even while not doing Whole30.
5.) Eating out at restaurants can be difficult, but it’s not impossible. It just takes research and planning. I didn’t go to a restaurant ONCE during my first Whole30. I cooked everything at home. This time around I was comfortable enough with knowing what I can/cannot eat, so I wanted to give it a go!
I’ll admit I’m fortunate enough to live in a larger city where the options for healthier fare seem to be much more abundant. With a quick Google search, my BF found a list of 7 Whole30-friendly restaurants in Chicago. Together, we’ve been to True Food Kitchen a couple times and have always been impressed. It was on this particular list so we bopped on over for lunch last weekend. I told the waiter I was currently on the Whole30 so I needed to modify my order slightly. He was fantastic. I order a salad [removed some non-compliant ingredients], added chicken, and was even able to add a Whole30 approved dressing, per his recommendation. Needless to say, it was delicious.
6.) Sugar is sneaky. Read those labels because I was surprised to find it hidden in SO many unassuming products - salsa, mustard, salad dressings, etc.
7.) It feels good not be bloated. Ha, that’s a no-duh. But I’d say in weeks 3 and 4 my body started to respond to this "cleaner” way of eating and I noticed the de-bloat. It's a nice non-scale victory that powers a lil more motivation to keep on going, but it's also a reminder that the program works. You're eliminating certain foods for a reason and your body is responding in a positive way as a result. Claps and snaps.
8.) Meal prep is essential. I cannot stress this enough. This was one of the best learnings that came out of my first Whole30 experience and I’ve been consistently doing it for over a year! Every Sunday I’ll prep my lunches for the week. It doesn’t have to be time intensive or complicated. In fact, I always keep it pretty simple and it normally involves a crockpot and a sheet pan of roasted veggies. I assembled the meals in packable containers, store in the fridge and I'm set for the week ahead.
9.) You social life can suffer. This is honestly the only negative I can draw from the entire Whole30 experience. You’ll notice [pretty quickly] how many social events actually revolve around food and drinking. For me, its tough to feel motivated to attend these events because I tend to feel like the odd one out. But hey, it’s only 30 days! Power through, sista. What was helpful for me was finding activities to do that didn’t necessarily involve food and drinking such as taking a yoga class, going rock climbing, seeing a movie, trying a new coffee shop. Kudos to my BF who was a good sport with this. We found a cute coffee shop in Wicker Park that serves tea & coffee and provides a nice lil library of board games. Sunday Scrabble is a new fave pastime.
10.) Would I do it again? 100%. I was reminded once again that my body can feel pretty dang good when I fuel it with healthy, whole eats and eliminate the unnecessary crap. I caught a cold in my last week. Darn you, chilly Chi! It zapped my energy and forced me to slow my roll for a few days. But it honestly didn't hinder my progress or taint the Whole30 experience at all. I feel proud. Accomplished. Whole30 is not easy, but it's definitely not impossible. Yes, cheers to kickin' off 2018 right. Buzz buzz, lil bee.